The New Orleans Saints 2023 NFL Draft is in the books, which means it’s time to review the actual picks. While Saints general manager Mickey Loomis wasn’t quite as wild as he’s been in years past, New Orleans still moved all around the board to build the best roster possible.
In all, they obtained the following players:
- First Round, 28th Overall: Bryan Bresee, DT
- Second Round, 40th Overall: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE
- Third Round, 71st Overall: Kendre Miller, RB
- Fourth Round, 103rd Overall: Nick Saldiveri, G
- Fourth Round, 127th Overall: Jake Haener, QB
- Fifth Round, 146th Overall: Jordan Howden, S
- Sixth Round, 195th Overall: A.T. Perry, WR
New Orleans Saints 2023 NFL Draft Review Grade: 8.8/10
New Orleans Saints 2023 NFL Draft Review
The Best Player: Bryan Bresee
The New Orleans Saints lost a lot of talent on the defensive line in free agency, and Bryan Bresee will help close that gap. While he’s technically listed as a defensive tackle, the Clemson product has the ability to line up all along the defensive line and get after the quarterback while providing solid support in the run game. While he wouldn’t have been my choice (more on that later), he is an instant-impact starter that should be able to help the Saints push for a division title.
The Head-Scratcher: No Early Quarterback
Derek Carr is a fine short-term answer under center, but he is too old to ever be a true franchise quarterback. The Saints had multiple opportunities to select a prospect with “franchise quarterback” in their range of outcomes and passed every single time. Hendon Hooker, a player the Saints were supposedly interested in, fell all the way to the third round, but New Orleans decided not to even bother with him.
No team can ever truly compete without a franchise quarterback, and until you have one, teams should do everything in their power to try and find one. Maybe Levis and Hooker won’t ever turn into franchise quarterbacks, but they were certainly worth the gamble at their price.
The Surprise: Bryan Bresee Over Nolan Smith
Based on his college film, Bryan Bresee deserved to be selected late in the first round. However, he had no business getting drafted ahead of Nolan Smith. While these two do not play the same position, they are both primarily responsible for getting after the quarterback, and Smith is a lot better at it than Bresee. Perhaps New Orleans felt they needed to add another body on the interior defensive line, and Smith can’t help there, but they also need edge defenders just as badly, as evidenced by the Isaiah Foskey selection. Everybody’s draft board is different, but it’s hard to imagine anyone outside of New Orleans believing that Bresee is a better player than Smith.
The Steal: Nick Saldiveri
The Saints traded up to the first pick in the fourth round to select Nick Saldiveri, and it’s easy to see why. New Orleans had one of the worst interior offensive lines in football last year, and the Old Dominion product should go a long way in shoring up that hole. The 6′-6″, 316-pound lineman is a quick-footed player that should be able to help out in the screen game – something the Saints love to do.
Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp: Isaiah Foskey
Training camp practices are light on contact, which means that speed rushers have a unique chance to shine in early practices. Isaiah Foskey is insanely quick off the snap and reaches his max speed in a blink of an eye. While his stiffness and lack of strength will show up in the preseason, he should be able to impress fans and coaches alike with the pads off.
Alvin Kamara is getting older and will likely face a suspension in 2023, and the Saints may have found his long-term replacement in Kendre Miller. While he doesn’t have Kamara’s ability to outrun everyone on the field (one could easily argue that even Kamara doesn’t have this anymore) the running back breaks tackles on a frequent basis and does just enough as a receiver to stay on the field on all three downs. He’s more Mark Ingram than Alvin Kamara, but he is good enough to eventually be the Saints starting running back.
Jake Haener and Derek Carr are making Fresno State proud in New Orleans. Haener has the arm for the NFL if he played in a more traditional manner, but there are too many instances on tape where he thinks he’s Josh Allen. If he can realize his limitations, he should have a decent career as a journeyman backup and bridge quarterback.
Jordan Howden will be a great coach someday, as it’s clear from watching him that his football IQ is off the charts. However, he simply lacks the athleticism required to play at the NFL level and was a bit of a reach in the fifth round. A.T. Perry, meanwhile, offers upside as a dynamic deep threat, he just needs to add some more muscle without losing any of his speed.
Main Photo: Ken Ruinard – USA Today Sports